HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County historian and newly-elected vice president of the historical society, Jerry Taylor, dispensed a presentation on the correlation between the names of local areas and their Cherokee origins on Monday, Jan. 14. “They are gone like the buffalo and the elk which once roamed the mountain valleys…,” Taylor began.
Hiawassee, derived from the Cherokee word “Ayuhwasi” which means meadow, savannah, or pretty, green place, was once known as Watson Crossroads prior to 1856.
Taylor explained that many of the roads in Towns County were named according to their function. Hog Creek, for example, was where the hogs freely roamed. Fodder Creek harbored stacks of corn fodder which was used to feed livestock during the cold, mountain winters. Tallulah translates to terrible. Talking Rock converts to echo. Choestoe transcribes to land of the dancing rabbits. “It means more rabbits than you can shake a stick at,” the friendly historian said with a chuckle. Taylor listed a host of locations interpreted from the Cherokee dialect.
Taylor provided the history from an early-1800s census, telling the tale of a Cherokee elder named “Sweetwater” who resided along the Hiwassee River. The household consisted of 13 Cherokee tribe members, one of whom was a weaver, another a farmer, and five were cited as spinners. Five could read English, and seven could read Cherokee.
“Everytime we use these words we’re acknowledging whose land this really is,” Taylor informed the intrigued group that had gathered to listen to the well-informed historian’s stories.
The Towns County Historical Society convenes monthly at 9oo N. Main St. in Hiawassee. The upcoming meeting, open to the public, is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11, at 5:30 p.m.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet, attracting more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Towns, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, and Murray counties, as well as Clay and Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week, reaching between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Historical Society held their 2019 board election on the evening of Monday, Jan. 14, following rescinded resignations from three presiding officers. President Sandra Green faced challenger Terry Lynne Marshall, with Green securing reestablishment, along with the unopposed reelection of Treasurer Frances Shook and Membership Secretary Mary Ann Miller. Historian Jerry Taylor was elected to serve as vice president, a post vacated by former officer Nancy Cody. Secretary Betty Phillips was defeated by 22-year-old Tyler Osborn. Phillips graciously congratulated Osborn, adding that she believes the group can continue to work together to benefit the society’s mission. Nominations were unexpectedly accepted from the floor, adding Osborn to the ballot on election night.
Brief, sole-sided conflict ensued preceding the paper-ballot vote as presidential candidate Terry Lynne Marshall adamantly refused to speak with President Sandra Green situated beside the podium. Marshall recited a lengthy resume of qualifications, stating, “I really don’t want to be president, but I feel the need to be now for this group.” Marshall served as the historical society’s president from 2003 until 2012, relinquishing the post to care for her aging parents.
Marshall relayed that her paramount concern involves proper, permanent preservation of “Wisdom of our Elders,” a historical timeline of recorded interviews. Marshall voiced dissatisfaction with the current handling of the records, and strives to forge a group of volunteers dedicated to the project.
Prior to the casting of ballots, Green, a key player in the restoration of the Old Rock Jail museum, humbly stated a passion for history as her cardinal qualification, explaining that the Towns County Historical Society is the only organization to which she is devoted, adding, “I am very proud of what I have done.” Green remained composed throughout the meeting.
FYN spoke with Green after the election to inquire whether the matter regarding the recorded interviews will be addressed. Green stated that discussion will take place at the society’s upcoming executive meeting, with the item potentially placed on February’s agenda.
“Congratulations to Jerry Taylor on being elected as vice president of the Historical Society this evening,” Green later wrote on social media, “Also to Tyler Osborn who was elected as secretary. I look forward to working with them as well as Frances Shook and Mary Ann Miller, who were re-elected as treasurer and membership secretary. 2019 should be an exciting year for us. I look forward to working with them to make the organization better than ever! Hope you’ll make our 2nd Monday of each month meetings a regular part of your schedule! Thanks for your support.”
Feature Photo: Towns County Historical Society President Sandra Green
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet, attracting more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Towns, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, and Murray counties, as well as Clay and Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week, reaching between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Four days after announcing a decision to vacate posts, three Towns County Historical Society officers have rescinded their resignations, choosing to remain on tonight’s election ballot.
“As you may be aware, several officers submitted an unofficial oral resignation at the last officer’s meeting and notification was posted on Facebook and via email,” Green stated, “Due to overwhelming outcry from the membership, these officers have decided to rescind their resignations for the good of the mission of the Towns County Historical Society: preserving and sharing the rich history of our area.
“At the December meeting, the nominating committee presented a slate of nominations including Sandra Green for president, Jerry Taylor for vice president, Frances Shook for treasurer, Betty Phillips for secretary, and Mary Ann Miller for membership secretary. An additional nomination was made from the floor of Terry Lynn Marshall for president. The election will proceed as planned, and there will be an opportunity for additional nominations before the election. Please remember that only members who are current on their membership dues are eligible to vote.”
Towns County Historical Society meets this evening, Monday, Jan. 14, at 5:30 p.m. at the Old Recreation Center, located at 900 N. Main St. in Hiawassee.
Jerry Taylor will present a program on the Cherokee names of the area, following the business portion of the meeting.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Historical Society President Sandra Green announced on Thursday, Jan. 10, that four officers, herself included, have resigned their positions, effective immediately, and will not seek reelection on Monday, Jan. 14.
In addition to Green, Treasurer Frances Shook and Membership Secretary Mary Ann Miller will no longer serve on the board. A statement that Vice President Nancy Cody would not seek reelection was delivered at the historical society’s December meeting.
“It has been a joy to be part of leading the organization and watching it grow for as long as we’ve held our positions. To the best of our knowledge Betty Phillips is still on the ballot as Secretary and David & Myrtle Sokol will still be videoing the meetings,” Green announced, signing off with, “sincerely and with sadness.”
While the specific circumstances surrounding the decision to step down from the positions are unclear at the time of publication, FYN will continue to seek clarity in the coming days. It is known that the society met earlier in the day for an executive session where alleged conflict ensued, leading to the resignation of the officers.
Towns County Historical Society meets at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan 14, at 900 North Main St. in Hiawassee. Members are eligible to vote in the officer election.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Renovation to Towns County’s “Old” Recreation Center, located at 900 South Main Street in Hiawassee, has been completed, and the building now serves several functions, one of which provides indoor space for pickleball players to enjoy on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In addition to newly-installed LED lighting, fresh coats of paint, and necessary roof repair, the worn gymnasium flooring was removed, the work of inmate labor, and new flooring was installed.
Pickleball, a sport especially popular with the baby boomer generation, combines the elements of badminton, tennis, and ping pong. Two-to-four players participate in single or double teams, using wooden paddles to serve a plastic ball across a court.
According tothe USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), the rules are simple and the game is easy for players to learn, although pickleball can develop into a fast-paced, competitive sport for experienced players.
The Georgia Mountain Pickleball Tournament for CASA will be held on the weekend of Aug. 31, 2019, in Hiawassee.
The renovated recreation center will also serve as additional space for basketball games and tournaments, and an indoor batting cage for baseball players during inclement weather. Furthermore, the center functions as a meeting place for the Towns County Historical Society’s monthly presentations.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Ralph Nichols and the Hiawassee Opry Band entertained the Towns County Historical Society on Monday, Dec. 10, with a mixture of gospel and classic Christmas songs, delighting a crowd of 72 attendees. Nichols formed his band nearly two decades ago, and continues to perform at reunions, revivals, and homecoming celebrations on a regular basis.
A music hall once stood in Hiawassee where the A-to-Z store is currently located, and each Saturuday night from April to October for 16 years, Nichols and his crew would charm music lovers from miles around with their feel-good tunes. “We had people come from everywhere,” Nichols shared with a smile.
A festive spirit was nearly tangible as local residents partook in a smorgaboard of appetizers and lively fellowship during a brief intermission. As the event neared its close, Nichols’ band accepted requests, ending the set with “Star of Bethlehem” and “Blue Christmas.”
Ralph Nichols was the historical society’s guest speaker in August, sharing tales of Tate City.
In other news, Towns County Historical Society Vice President Nancy Cody is vacating the position. “She has done an incredible job, not only in selecting speakers, but also along with her sister, Annette Cook, oral history interviews,” Historical Society Secretary Betty Phillips relayed. The election for historical society officers will be held Jan. 14, 2019. Paid historical society members will be eligible to vote.
Towns County Historical Society meets on the second Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the old recreation center, 900 North Main St. in Hiawassee.
Feature Photo: The Ralph Nichols Band (L-R) Mack Dendy, Truett Spiva, Ralph Nichols, Ken Conner, Wayne Satterfield
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hundreds of trick-or-treaters arrived at the Towns County Courthouse on Halloween evening to join in the fun-filled celebration. Candy booths sponsored by local businesses and government agencies lined the courthouse porch as children of all ages wrapped their way around the building, collecting sweets.
This year’s event featured a “haunted jail” attraction at the Old Rock Jail Museum, and the line to tour the 1939 historic site stretched beneath the maple tree on the courthouse grounds. Towns County Historical Society accomplished a spooktacular feat by supplying themed props, adding startling strobe and sound effects, and casting a set of skilled actors to play the part of tour guides, inmates, and other creepy characters.
Towns County Historical Society President Sandra Green estimated that over a hundred visitors toured the spooky site on Halloween night.
Halloween in Hiawassee included a street performance by North Georgia Dance Studio, a “Thriller” flash mob, and a children’s costume contest. The first place winner in the birth-to-age-two category was awarded to Kylyn Keyes. Romina Solorio was chosen for first prize in the 3-to-7 year range, and Anna Hamby was judged the winner in the 8-and-older category.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Macedonia Baptist Church, a landmark sitting high on a hill along Highway 76, east of Hiawassee city limits, has a deep history that is unbeknownst to many. The story of the chapel was the focus of discussion at the Towns County Historical Society meeting on Oct. 8, 2018. The informative program was presented by Macedonia Baptist Church Deacon Roger Dyer, and lifelong member Daren “Bear” Osborn.
The room was filled to near capacity with church members and county residents, including Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw and former Commissioner Bill Kendall, both instrumental in preserving the beloved history of Towns County.
Founded as Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in 1839, with the land deeded by Major Josiah Carter, the first of four eventual structures was built behind where the current church now stands. The Hiwassee River rushed along the chapel, and it was said that when the water level in Lake Chatuge sinks low, the steps leading from the original church can still be found. The river witnessed many baptisms throughout the following years, although the initial converts consisted of 11 members. Reverend Adam Corn, an Asheville, NC, transplant, born in 1782, is thought to have been Macedonia’s first preacher, initially serving as a missionary to Native Americans upon local arrival.
Major Carter was a delegate at the founding Southern Baptist Convention in Augusta, GA, in 1845, along with other area preachers. The Hiawassee Baptist Association was organized in 1849, and included Macedonia Baptist beside 23 sister churches from Clay and Cherokee County, NC, and Union and Rabun County, GA.
Carter, along with 27 of Macedonia Baptist Church’s first members, lies at rest in Carter Cemetery, tucked behind what is now Towns County Schools.
Macedonia was once known as Shady Grove, GA, and the land was a part of Union County until Towns County was established in 1856. The church was said to have housed soldiers during the Civil War era, although official records were stored in the Union County Courthouse which was later destroyed by fire in 1899.
In 1932, “God’s Acre Plan” was established by Reverend Frank Lloyd. Volunteer labor was used to prepare the land to plant, cultivate, and harvest crops. The farming endeavor served as revenue for Macedonia Baptist Church for years to come.
The second church was constructed in 1942, the result of the addition of Lake Chatuge which caused a need to move Macedonia Baptist to higher ground. The congregation was urged to pray for God’s guidance, and the original chapel was deconstructed, relocated, and reassembled upon an elevated mound. The first homecoming was held in 1945, and it continues to be honored annually on May 15.
In 1957, the congregation desired to build a more modern structure. The government supplied timber from the High Shoals area, and $802 in revenue from “God’s Acre Plan” set the project into motion. The church was built by the hands of church members, with dedication taking place on April 27, 1958. The building remains standing, adjacent to the current church which was constructed in 1995. Reverend Harold Ledford served Macedonia Baptist Church for 30 years until his death on Feb. 11, 2017. Reverend Ed Jump is serving as Macedonia’s transitional pastor at the time of publication.
Numerous historical photographs were displayed on a projector screen throughout the presentation as Dyer and Osborn offered detailed narrative, and DVDs of the monthly meetings in their entirety are available for a nominal fee through the Towns County Historical Society. Historical Society Secretary Betty Phillips opened the presentation by acknowledging the dedicated efforts of David and Myrtle Sokol in preserving the meetings through videography.
Towns County Historical Society meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the former Recreation Center at 900 north Main St. in Hiawassee.
Of note, the Old Rock Jail Museum will close between the months of November and April. Appointments to tour the historical site during the off-season can be arranged through the Towns County Historical Society.
Feature Photo Credit: Macedonia Baptist Church